IPCC report says Singapore could be hit hardest by climate change, Environment News & Top Stories
SINGAPORE – The harshest impacts of climate change have been elsewhere so far, but a report released on Monday August 9 said Singapore must prepare for tougher times ahead.
If global warming emissions do not drop to zero by around 2050, more punitive heatwaves, severe coastal flooding and episodes of heavier rain could be the order of the day for this island.
“Cities are intensifying locally caused warming, and increased urbanization along with more frequent extreme temperatures will increase the severity of heat waves,” noted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). in its summary for policymakers.
Singapore has already experienced above-average warming due to the urban heat island effect – a phenomenon of urban structures trapping heat during the day and releasing it at night.
Local temperatures are 1.8 ° C warmer than they were in 1948, according to data from the Singapore Meteorological Service (MSS) of the National Environment Agency. In contrast, global temperatures have warmed by around 1.1 ° C since pre-industrial times, which ended around 1850.
And Singapore’s Center for Climate Research – a unit under the MSS – said the latest report suggests even higher temperatures will be felt here over the coming decades.
The discovery comes amid Singapore’s efforts to make the city cooler, planting more trees in urban spaces and a pilot program involving 130 Housing Board blocks in Tampines covered in heat-reflective paint.
But Singapore University of Management climatologist Winston Chow, who is an expert on the impacts of climate change on cities, said temperatures above 35C in Singapore would be an uncomfortable experience for many due to the weather. humid environment.
The humidity amplifies thermal discomfort, said Professor Chow, who contributes to the IPCC reports.
But while humans can adapt to this with air conditioning and shade, the country’s native flora and fauna cannot. “Our trees and animals on land and at sea do not have this luxury if there is a prolonged heat wave.”
Another worrying indicator of climate change for the island will be the rising tide. As the world warms, ocean waters expand and land ice melts, causing water levels to rise.
The global average projections in the latest report of a sea level rise of about 1 m by 2100 do not differ significantly from previous IPCC reports. But there was more information about the possibility of extreme sea level events, which have a low probability of happening but can be very damaging when they do.
The IPCC said: “Extreme sea level events that have occurred once a century in the recent past are expected to occur at least once a year at more than half of all tide gauge locations by 2100 . ” Tide gauges are tools used by scientists to monitor changes in sea level relative to the land.
The Center for Climate Research Singapore said that processes such as sea ice cliff instabilities – which are blocks of ice facing the sea that act as a “door stopper” preventing land ice from entering the sea. ‘ocean – could potentially contribute over a further meter of sea level rise by the end of the 21st century, adding to the currently projected global average sea level rise.
Professor Benjamin Horton, director of the Earth Observatory at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, who was editor-in-chief of the chapter on sea level changes, said it was an area of ‘Study in progress.
“Extrapolations from scattered observations of a poorly understood process mean that the resulting predictions of the collapse of an ice cliff on future sea level rise have deep uncertainty,” he said. he declares.
Scientists use observational data to develop and validate models, which in turn are used to make projections into the future. Lack of data can make it difficult to make such predictions with certainty.
Professor Horton said a big concern for the future is the melting of the planet’s two great ice caps – Greenland and Antarctica. While the melting was mainly confined to mountain glaciers in the 20th century, he said satellite measurements of the ice caps show that this melting is accelerating.
If all of Greenland’s ice melted, it would raise global sea level by seven meters, he said.
“Antarctica is 20,000 times the size of Singapore, two to three kilometers thick, and has enough water to raise the sea level by 65 meters,” added Professor Horton. “It’s over a third the height of the Singapore flyer and seven times the height of the Merlion statue. If a few percent of the Antarctic ice sheet melted, it would have devastating effects.”
Regarding precipitation, the IPCC said that in general, rainfall events could become more intense and frequent with each additional degree of warming.
Southeast Asia is also said to be suffering, leading to flash floods if the ground is covered with concrete and drainage systems are submerged, but more research needs to be done to see if Singapore experiences it.
Indeed, precipitation is very variable. If Singapore were a bathtub and the rain falling on it was from the faucets that feed into it, climate change would be just one faucet.
Precipitation is also influenced by other factors, including vegetation and topography of surrounding areas, as terrain and coastlines influence how winds carry moisture.
“The science around the attribution of climate change is still evolving, and MSS will continue to study this, as well as the impact of climate change on Singapore’s weather,” its spokesperson said.
The latest report, over 1000 pages long, produced by IPCC Working Group 1, examines the physical basis of climate change. This is the first of three reports that will constitute the IPCC’s sixth assessment report to be released next year.
Singapore’s Center for Climate Research said it is studying the latest IPCC report and working to contextualize the findings for the Republic.
Singapore’s third national climate change study is expected to be completed by the end of next year, the MSS spokesperson said in a statement.
“The results will guide the ongoing planning and implementation of adaptation actions to protect Singapore from the impact of climate change. These measures will be continuously reviewed and adjusted, as new knowledge and information on the effects of climate change becomes available, ”she added.